Thursday, September 6, 2018

Chinese Startup Launches Three CubeSats into Space

SQX-1Z rocket lifts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 5, 2018. Photo Credit: Xinhua/Wang Jiangbo

I-Space, a Beijing-based space startup, successfully launched on Wednesday, September 5, its SQX-1Z rocket carrying three CubeSats. The launch marked the first time when a private Chinese company sends satellites into space.

The rocket lifted off at 1:00 p.m. local time (1:00 a.m. EDT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) located in Gansu Province in northwest China. I-Space disclosed that after the launch the SQX-1Z booster flew for more than six minutes and 40 seconds, and reached an altitude of about 67 miles (108 kilometers) from which it deployed the trio of CubeSats into space.

Launch success was also confirmed by the state-run Xinhua press agency some three hours after blastoff.

“A private Chinese company sent a suborbital rocket into space at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China,” Xinhua reports.

The CubeSats were launched for two Chinese commercial companies - ZeroG Lab and ADA-Space. According to i-Space, two satellites sent into space on Wednesday were released into space for testing, while the third was parachuted to Earth after its separation from the launch vehicle.

SQX-1Z (also known as Hyperbola-1Z) is a solid-propellant suborbital rocket with a diameter of 4.6 feet (1.4 meters) and a maximum design speed of 3,580 mph (1.6 km/s). The booster can reach an altitude of 109 miles (175 kilometers). According to Yao Bowen of i-Space, SQX-1Z will be used by the company to provide minisatellite and constellation launch services for various clients.

Wednesday’s mission marked the second launch for i-Space. The startup, founded in 2016, conducted its debut launch in April 2018, which verified the design and equipment of its first indigenously developed rocket named SQX-1S (Hyperbola-1S). The company’s next mission is currently scheduled for 2019.

The flight of SQX-1Z marked the 24th launch conducted from Chinese soil and the ninth from JSLC in 2018.

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